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Home or Hospital: Best Place to Have a Safe Birth?

San Jose Birth Injury Lawyers

Hospital LettersDespite the advances in medical technology that make births in hospitals much safer than they were decades ago, slightly over one percent of new moms decided to give birth at home in 2012. Most people who opt for a home-birth plan do so for religious, spiritual, financial or other personal or comfort reasons. Despite the comforts of giving birth in your home, evidence overwhelmingly suggests that hospital births are safer, smarter, and a much better choice for new mothers.

Safety Considerations

The medical and academic literature surrounding the safety of home births versus hospital births is contradictory to say the least. Most studies that lean toward home births have fatal errors in their research, according to a recent Time article that explores the pros and cons of at-home childbirth. The real concerns arise during non-routine childbirths, those that necessitate emergency intervention, or emergency surgery for mom or baby. The likelihood of an emergency occurring is nearly equal at home or at the hospital (so long as the mother received proper prenatal care and any potential complications were discovered if possible), but the concern is what happens in the event of an emergency. The time it may take to get to the hospital once an at-home birthing mother has already begun labor may be the difference between life and death and poor and good health for the baby.

Things such as access to oxygen, proximity to an operating room, access to patient medical history and increased medical expertise are all benefits of being in the hospital during a birth. If any unforeseeable complications arise, being in the hospital might ultimately be what saves both the mother and the baby’s life.

Again, many midwives and articles suggest that home births can be as safe (or safer) than hospital stays, but there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The mortality rate of infants is extremely low in the United States regardless of whether birth occurs at home or in the hospital, but the rate of infant death upon delivery or in the days thereafter is exponentially higher among babies born at home versus babies born in the hospital. Home births are virtually out of the question if there are known medical conditions with the mother or the baby; increased access to medical professionals is necessary in these circumstances in particular.

A midwife in the State of California must be licensed by the Medical Board of California, though there are many categorizations and designations of midwives that are determined by their level of training and expertise. There are designations of certified nurse midwives as well, and California generally has stricter requirements than many states when it comes to midwives. Despite this fact, nothing is comparable to being in a hospital with all the resources possibly available in case of unforeseen complications.

Cost Considerations

The recent Time article sums up the debate by stating that "the question we face is not whether home birth is as safe as hospital birth; it isn’t. The real question is whether home birth is safe enough to encourage it as a cost-saving measure.”

Those looking into home births may automatically assume they are cheaper than a hospital stay; this is not necessarily the case. Given that most hospital stays will be covered by insurance companies, most at-home birth expenses including the hiring of a midwife or other professional will most likely have to be paid out of pocket. This is particularly concerning given that a significant percentage of at-home births require the mother and baby to subsequently be transferred to a hospital. Consider that there will be additional hospital (and ambulance transportation) fees involved in the event an at-home birth must be converted into a hospital stay and that there will be long-term fees associated with long-term disability or catastrophic injury that likely would not have occurred at the hands of a medical professional at a hospital.

San Jose, California Birth Injury Attorneys

The cost of at-home versus hospital childbirth is shared both by the financial burden and the potential risks and benefits. Giving birth at home is traditional, comforting, and something many families find is right for them. Regardless of whether you and your family decide that an at home birth or a hospital birth is right for you, you have legal rights that protect you from the negligence or careless actions of your physician, midwife, or other medical professional. If you, your baby, or anyone you know has been injured as the result of medical errors during a birth or prenatal care, you may have the right to receive compensation. At Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P., our skilled San Jose childbirth injury attorneys know how to approach these difficult, emotional, and complicated cases to ensure the best outcome for our clients and their families. To learn more about your rights if you have been the victim of a birth related injury at home or in the hospital, reach out to our San Jose office today at (408) 289-1417.

Client Reviews
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.